A glimmer of hope?

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SOME 101 Hartlepool people were taken out of the dole queue in July, according to the latest jobless figures.

But fears have been raised that this is just a short-term boost due to seasonal jobs.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in town dropped from 4,353 in June to 4,252 last month.

This is 7.3 per cent of the town’s working age population.

The number of Hartlepool people claiming the benefit for up to six months was 1,660, the figure for those who claimed for between six and 12 months was 805, and 1,770 had been claiming it for more than a year.

And the number of young people aged 18 to 24 claiming JSA was 1,230, down from 1,255 in June.

But Hartlepool Borough Council leader, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, said although the figures were pleasing he hoped the drop in the jobless rate, particularly at this time of year, was not just due to summer jobs.

He said: “It’s fallen, and it’s great for the town.

“But we don’t know what the implications are - we don’t know whether this is a case of seasonal employment that really can’t be sustained.”

Mike Hill, Unison regional organiser representing Hartlepool, said: “These figures are clearly unquantifiable and clearly demonstrate there’s a long way to go to resolve the impact of the drastic amount of job losses in Hartlepool and in the region which have come about as a consequence of the Coalition’s cuts.”

In the former Easington district, 3,125 people claimed the benefit, slightly down from 3,159 in June, which is 5.9 per cent of the area’s working population.

In the Stockton North constituency area, which includes Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard, the jobless figure was down from 3,905 to 3,810.

This accounts for 6.4 per cent of the working age population.

In Sedgefield, there were 2,251 claimaints, which is 4.3 per cent of the working age population, and a decrease from 2,307 claimants in June.

The national jobless claimant count fell by 29,200 in July – the ninth consecutive monthly drop – to 1.4 million, the lowest since February 2009.

Total unemployment, including those not eligible for benefit, fell by 4,000 in the quarter from April to June to 2.5 million.

But national youth unemployment, among 16 to 24-year-olds, increased by 15,000 to reach 973,000.

The number of people out of work for more than two years rose by 10,000 to 474,000, the highest since 1997.